SCORES of determined mums gathered outside Stafford Hospital as a call to arms to keep full maternity services at the site.
They say scrapping the consultant-led unit could spell disaster and met at the Weston Road hospital yesterday to show their opposition to the plans and urge other parents to join the fight.
Cheryl Porter, of Save Stafford Hospital, had her son Leo six weeks prematurely at Stafford and developed life-threatening pre-eclampsia.
She said: “I was in there for nearly a month because I was poorly after having him. If I hadn’t had a consultant-led maternity I don’t think Leo and I would be here today. If they had put me in an ambulance and taken me to another hospital I wouldn’t have made it.”
Sarah Doughty was 32 weeks pregnant when she gave birth to daughter Jessica.
Her husband Neil arrived just in time for the birth but if she had been elsewhere he would have missed it.
“I want to have another child but I’m really worried. The chances of me having another premature baby are high so the thought of having to travel further afield is awful. The hospital was near home. I was in for several weeks afterwards so my husband didn’t have far to come each day.
“And what will happen when the hundreds of families and troops move into MoD Stafford?”
Karen Howell, whose son Oliver, now 18, was born at Stafford, said: “Oliver was born in Stafford and afterwards I had an infection and he had a kidney problem which was picked up immediately by paediatricians. They did a scan and were asking about other siblings and it turned out my other son also had the same kidney problem. That wouldn’t happen with midwife-led services.”
Gill Flowers said: “My youngest daughter was overdue five days. I went up
because my waters broke. If Stafford hadn’t been there I would never have got to another hospital as she came very quickly. It’s a chilling thought to think we’re not going to have that.”
Her sister-in-law Anne Flowers, who had two children in the town maternity ward, added: “Ask any woman in labour. It’s hard, it’s painful and to then be put in an ambulance and driven however many miles. You could go to Stoke but if that’s full who can say when they put you in the ambulance where you end up?”
Councillor Patricia Rowlands, chairman of Stafford Borough Council’s health scrutiny committee, said she had to travel elsewherewhen she had her children.
“It’s the fact you have got to go somewhere you are not familiar with and see people you have never met before. Distance is also an issue for people who want to visit you. It’s nice to go into the place where you have built up relationships with people. To me it’s almost a regressive step.”